Skip to main content

Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

See other formats


SPERM   WHALES                                   363

enormous Lead of the Cachalot and the very fairly-developed
skull of ill*- " Pygmy Sperm Whal**." Both, however, furnish
spermaceti, and In various c:*teulogieul detail?, come near together.
On the whole we incline towards separating the Cachalot? from
the Zi|>Mokl% and shall t lie re fore commence with the former as
btfing in some r^peets the more primitive meiub&rs of the family
Physfteridae.
Sub-Fam. 1. Physeterinae.-—This sub-family may be tlras
defined:—-Teeth in lower jaw numerous. Xo distinct lachrymal
bone. Slonuicli with only u>ur eompiirtineiits ('as to J£&gifi"j.
Of tills an]»-family the l»et*t-kuown geiiiis Is I'fnjseftr, including
the Sperm Whale or Cachalot. Of other reputed species we shall
speak later. The geim,* is ehurat'U*risfed in the first place by its
large siz«— HK much as 82 feet of length have been assigned to
'utc<ruc€'j'&<Mif«; but Sir "William Flower thought that
60 feet might i»e a letter approximation to the
of :he Cachalot. The head is enormous, a third
of the lei.gtSu oi* tLc l»ody, itud terminates in fi massive and
^luntis?h ^iiuiit. Tiiis i^, however, not so abruptly truncated as
is often r- ]»rc^ei*ted in figures. According to Messrs. I*ouchet
ami Chitves/ it slopes ibrward two metres beyond tlie end of the
lower jaw ; tlie mouth is thus ventral and almost shark-like in
poaitloe, as is the case also with the Pygmy Sperm Whale, to *...-
considered later. In connexion with this peculiar position of
the mouth, ifc has been asserted—Mr. 3T. T. Bullen figures it'2----
that the Sperm Whale turns over upon its back to bite. The
blow-bole is single, and shaped like the sound-bole of a violin;
it lies upon one si.de.> and is not median in position. The throat
is grooved as in the ZIpMoids by two grooves. The dorsal fin is
represented by a whole series of lowish humps, decreasing in
elevation from before backwards. The pectoral fins are not large
relatively speaking. The great square head is not occupied
entirely by the skull \ the cavity lying above, which is of course
traversed by the tube ending in the blow-hole, is filled with the
spermaceti, which is fluid fat during the life of the animal.
Spermaceti also occurs in other "Whales ; and that of Ift/jperoodon,
whence it lias been extracted for commercial purposes, is said to
offer no differences of importance from the spermaceti of the
1 *7<wr», de VAnai* xxvi. 1890,,, p. *270,
*  Tfte OrniM &/Ihe, Cbdtolo^ London, 19QD*